Austinites are an active bunch and like to have fun. But with hundreds of fun activities on the calendar, it’s hard to decide which ones to attend.
We have to prioritize which events deserve our time and money. In order to help you start planning and budgeting for 2015, I’ve put together a month by month guide to the biggest Austin events, ranging from free to however expensive you choose.
January | Le Garage Sale
January is a time to make resolutions. For example, shop local is a great resolution to make. If you’ve chosen to shop local more frequently this year, this two day, city-wide garage sale is the perfect place to start.
For the past 15 years, Le Garage Sale has given local vendors and retailers the opportunity to sell the season’s final items while giving attendees huge savings. Think of this event as outlet mall shopping, except instead of the Gap or Banana Republic, you have all local vendors and boutiques like By George and Limbo jewelry.
There are fashions for men, women and children, as well as accessories and home furnishings. It’s a great way to save money and support local businesses.
For the best deals, shop early Saturday morning. If you want to avoid crowds, head over during the last few hours on Sunday.
Location: Palmer Events Center
Dates & Time: Saturday, January 24 from 11 AM-6 PM and Sunday, January 25 from 11 AM-5 PM
Cost: $10 (each day) and an additional $10 for parking. Consider carpooling or public transpiration.
February | Austin Marathon and Half Marathon
Austinites love running. This is evident by every 5K, 10K and color run that seems to take place each weekend. But the Austin Marathon and Half Marathon is a big deal, especially if you’re an avid marathoner trying to qualify for bigger races such as the Boston Marathon.
If you’re not a runner, like me, there are several ways you can still participate. If you can average a 16-minute walking mile, then you can walk the marathon! Or you can volunteer. Volunteers are always needed and appreciated. Or simply go and cheer on the runners at the various mile markers. It’s always nice for them to have bystanders watching and encouraging. After all, they are running 26.2 miles! And what’s not impressive about that?
Location: Downtown Austin
Date & Time: Sunday, February 15 at 7 AM
Cost: $70-$145 depending on when you register and for which race
March | SXSW
SXSW is my favorite Austin holiday. It’s basically the ONLY thing to do in Austin during the month of March. Ok, maybe not the only thing, but it does span 10 days which is why people either love it, hate it, or love to hate it.
This massive 28 year old conference, which started as a music conference, has evolved over the years to become one of the biggest industry events not only in Austin, but worldwide. With 30,000+ people from around the world converging on Austin to partake, I often feel lucky to have this amazing event in my backyard.
Whether you’re a music lover, film fanatic or a techie, there are infinite ways to enjoy SXSW.
Dates & Time: All day, every day. Interactive – March 13-17 | Film – March 13-21 | Music – March 17-22
Cost: Free to $1645
April | Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival
A day without laughter is a day wasted. – Charlie Chaplin
This festival brings together over 100 national and local comedians to offer everything from sketch and improv, to stand-up and musical comedy. Big names such as Aziz Ansari and Demetri Martin made appearances last year, so who knows who will be on the ticket this year.
Purchase a badge or volunteer! However you decide to participate, always remember, “Laughter is the best medicine.”
Dates: April 22-25
May | Pecan Street Festival
Did you know the numbered streets in downtown Austin were once named after trees? 2nd Street was Live Oak, 3rd Street was Cypress St, 4th Street was Cedar St, 5th Street was Pine St and 6th Street was…you guessed it: Pecan Street!
So twice a year, once in May and again in September, we celebrate Austin with the Pecan Street Festival which takes place on 6th Street. This festival is an amazing assortment of food, art, music and kids activities. During the weekend event, hundreds of local artists fill the street with tents and booths, and over 60 local musicians take to the stages. There are food trucks and trailers, and there is even a petting zoo and face painting for the little ones.
Pecan Street Festival is one of my favorite people watching events of the year. It’s fun for the whole family and truly celebrates the essence of our city.
Location: 6th Street
Dates & Times: May 2 from 11 AM-10 PM & May 3 from 11 AM-8 PM
June | Republic of Texas Biker Rally
If you don’t know me, you might be surprised to know I like bikes. And I don’t mean Schwinns. I ride around town on a Vespa, but I also love all kinds of motorcycles and scooters. And Republic of Texas Biker Rally (ROT Rally) is a unique event that highlights these two wheeled vehicles. In fact, it is one of the most highly-anticipated motorcycle events in the country. And it takes place here in Austin!
The yearly biker parade is probably my favorite activity, which takes place on the Friday of the event. To close out the 20th anniversary of ROT Rally this year, Lynyrd Skynyrd will be performing on the main stage at the Travis County Expo Center.
Location: Travis County Expo Center and various venues around town
Dates: June 11-14
Cost: $69 for full four-day access to concerts, shows, attractions, exhibits and vendors
July | Music Under the Star
Every Friday evening in July, the Bullock Texas State History Museum invites Austinites to pull up a chair in the front yard for Music Under the Star. The atmosphere is relaxed and the whole family is invited. Featured artists are typically from Texas, often playing Americana or Bluegrass. Don’t be surprised if a space is cleared for dancing, as Austinites celebrate summer and the joy of gathering around good music.
Don’t forget chairs or a blanket and bug spray! And leave some time to go inside the museum to see the wonderful Texas history exhibits.
Location: The Bullock Texas State History Museum
Dates & Time: July 3, 10, 17, 24 and 30 from 6-9 PM
August | The Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival
Having a hot sauce festival in the dead of summer makes about as much sense as eating ice cream during a blizzard. Somehow it works. You’re already sweating from the heat, so why not sweat a little more from sampling hundreds of hot sauces? With about 15,000 tasters and over 350 entries, everyone seems to agree with this notion.
The Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival also serves as a fundraiser for the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. And to top it all off? It has become the world’s largest hot sauce festival! Who says August in Austin has to be miserable?
Location: Fiesta Gardens
Date & Time: August 23 from 12-5 PM
Cost: Free with a donation of 3 non-perishable food items or a suggested $5 cash donation to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas
September | Austin Museum Day
You may be familiar with the names of Austin’s museums, but when was the last time you set aside time to visit? On Austin Museum Day, you have no more excuses!
More than 40 Austin museums offer free admission to the public, opening up all their activities and exhibits. Many of them will also organize special events to celebrate the day.
Participating museums include Blanton Museum of Art, Bullock Texas State History Museum, French Legation Museum, Texas Governor’s Mansion, The Thinkery and Umlauf Sculpture Garden. Browse the full list of Austin Museum Day participants and grab a group of family and friends to visit with you.
Date: September 20
October | Austin City Limits Music Festival
As much as some Austinites like to complain about ACL Music Festival, it’s quite possibly the raddest outdoor music festival in Austin. Taking place over two weekends since 2013, this 13 year old festival is Austin. It’s local, it’s fun and it’s music. Plain and simple. And if you think about it, ACL Music Festival highlights our park, skyline, artists, musicians, food, pedicabs and spirit for approximately 75,000 daily visitors.
Some of the best things about our city were meant to be shared with the world. And this is one of them.
Location: Zilker Park
Dates & Time: October 2-4 & October 9-11, 11 AM-10 PM daily
Cost: $250 for 3-day wristband, day passes also available
November | Fun Fun Fun Fest
There’s music, but not just one type of music. Attendees will hear metal, rap, hip-hop, indie, rock and more.
There’s comedy. There’s food. There’s live art. There’s sports. You name it, it’s probably happening at Fun Fun fun.
I promise you will have the most unique experience at Fun Fun Fun Fest, since it’s known to bring together the most eclectic crowd of fans to revel in live entertainment.
Location: Auditorium Shores
Dates: November 6-8
Cost: ~$150 for a 3-day wristband, day passes also available
December | Trail of Lights
Trail of Lights is Austin’s longest running holiday celebration. It celebrated its 50th year in 2014 with 1.25 miles of lights. This long standing tradition includes the lighting of the iconic Zilker Christmas Tree, as well as food, Santa’s workshop, entertainment and 50 unique holiday displays.
There are actually more visitors to Trail of Lights than any other event mentioned above – even more than ACL Music Festival! So don’t be the only person who doesn’t make it to Trail of Lights this year.
Location: Zilker Park
Dates & Time: December 6-20, 7-10 PM (tentative)
Cost: $3 (costs may vary)
So there you have it. Your 12 month guide to the biggest Austin events. Now get to planning!
@jpino9 wants to know:
How many of these events do you participate in every year?